Senior nurse talks to happy new mother

Becoming a labor and delivery nurse represents a deeply gratifying and enriching career choice, particularly for individuals driven by their enthusiasm for maternal and infant healthcare. In the sphere of childbirth, these nurses play an indispensable role, guiding expectant mothers through one of life's most profound experiences while safeguarding the well-being of both mother and child. In this article, we present a step-by-step roadmap for aspiring labor and delivery nurses, encompassing educational prerequisites, licensure, and avenues for professional growth.

Educational Prerequisites

  • Attain a High School Diploma or Equivalent: The journey to becoming a labor and delivery nurse commences with a solid high school education, emphasizing science and math courses, as they form the foundation of nursing education.
  • Pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): While an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) remains a viable option, the BSN is progressively emerging as the preferred educational route for aspiring labor and delivery nurses. BSN programs typically span four years and offer a more comprehensive nursing education.
  • Enroll in an Accredited Nursing Program: Prioritize selection of a nursing school accredited by recognized accrediting bodies such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Complete Clinical Rotations: Nursing programs integrate clinical rotations in diverse healthcare settings, including labor and delivery units. These rotations afford invaluable hands-on experience in maternal and newborn care.


  • Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam: After completing your nursing program, the pivotal step involves passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This comprehensive examination evaluates your nursing knowledge and clinical competencies.
  • Secure State Licensure: Nursing licensure is regulated at the state level in the United States. To practice as a labor and delivery nurse, you must secure a nursing license in your intended state of practice, adhering to specific state requirements.

Clinical Experience

  • Accumulate Experience as a Registered Nurse: Before specializing in labor and delivery, most nurses embark on their careers by amassing experience in general nursing. Consider roles in areas such as medical-surgical, pediatric, or critical care nursing to cultivate indispensable nursing proficiencies.
A labor and delivery nurse, new mother, and baby


  • Pursue Additional Certification: While not universally mandated, acquiring certifications in maternal newborn nursing or obstetric nursing can augment your qualifications and broaden your professional prospects. Entities like the National Certification Corporation (NCC) offer these certifications.

Professional Advancement

  • Stay Current with Continuing Education: Healthcare remains an ever-evolving field, demanding labor and delivery nurses to remain abreast of the latest advancements and best practices. Engage in continuing education initiatives and participate in conferences pertinent to maternal and newborn care.
  • Join Professional Organizations: Explore membership in organizations like the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) or the American Nurses Association (ANA). These associations offer valuable networking opportunities and resources for labor and delivery nurses.

Becoming a labor and delivery nurse necessitates unwavering commitment, a rigorous educational foundation, and practical clinical experience. By adhering to this comprehensive guide, you can embark on a rewarding career devoted to aiding expectant mothers and their infants during one of life's most precious moments. Keep in mind that your journey doesn't conclude with licensure; ongoing professional development and a fervent dedication to maternal and infant care will pave the way for success in this deeply gratifying profession. 


Simple Nursing
National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
National Certification Corporation (NCC)
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)